Midwest Travel Guide

The midwest with the spectacular Great Lakes is a premier tourist destination in the US, known for spectacular scenery, modern cosmopolitan cities, historical and cultural sites, national parks, golf and skiing resorts, and varieties of recreation opportunities.

Visitors can enjoy a wide range of activities here, including golf, ice fishing, skiing, snowboarding, fishing, boating and swimming to name a few.

Major tourist attractions in the region include the freshwater lakes of Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior; the world-famous Niagara Falls; modern vibrating cities of Chicago, Indianapolis, Detroit, Minneapolis and Milwaukee; Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio; Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota; George Rogers Clark National Historical Park in Indiana; and the Isle Royale National Park in Michigan.

The largest expanse of freshwater in the world, the five bodies of water that comprise the Great Lakes sit on the border between Canada and the US. The five Great Lakes are: Lake Superior, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, with Lake Erie being the smallest and Lake Superior the largest in terms of volume. As a good indication of the sheer size of these connected lakes, they encompass an area the size of continental Europe.

The lakes have long been a great source of recreational activities on both sides of the border. On the Canadian side the Great Lakes is the province of Ontario, while the region includes the American states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

With so many states offering access to this aquatic wonderland, there are endless opportunities for tourism. The Great Lakes feature pristine national parks such as Isle Royale and Pukaskwa, while cosmopolitan waterfront cities include Chicago, Toronto, Cleveland and Milwaukee, all of which offer their own unique charms and attractions.

The Midwest region experiences four seasons, meaning outdoor activities of all styles can be enjoyed. In the winter there is ice-fishing, skiing, ice-skating and snowmobiling, while the summer months allow for everything from fishing and boating to swimming and golfing. Diving is also growing in popularity, with many tourists heading under the surface to check out the well-preserved wrecks of the countless vessels that have sunk to the depths of the lakes. Lake Superior’s Whitefish Point area alone is said to be home to more than 300 ships, prompting sailors to dub it the ‘graveyard of the Great Lakes.’

Cruises are another popular way to explore the five Great Lakes, with a wide variety of companies offering varied itineraries that allow travelers to experience Native American culture, historic sites and breathtaking scenery while touring the scenic locks and waterways that connect the lakes.

On dry land there are many opportunities to enjoy the lakes as well. Maritime museums can be found throughout the region, while camping and hiking are also popular pastimes among visitors. Historic towns can be found on the lakes’ shores as well. Having changed little since the 19th century, these towns take visitors on a walk back through time.

Perhaps the most famous attraction on the Great Lakes is Niagara Falls, which attracts millions of tourists a year. Sitting on the Canada/US border the falls are indeed an impressive feat of nature, caused by the rush of water from four of the five Great Lakes that merge with the waters of Lake Ontario before eventually flowing into the Atlantic Ocean.

The French were first to explore the region in the mid-17th century, followed by the British and others European explorers. The region became the American territory following the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783) and under the famous Louisiana Purchase of 1803.

Major Cities: Chicago, Indianapolis, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Minneapolis, Bloomington, Columbus and Milwaukee.